Col. Latham C. Strong
Col. Latham C. Strong

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

COL. LATHAM C. STRONG. Col. Latham Cornell Strong, son of Hon. Henry Wright Strong, one of the most eminent lawyers and statesmen the State of New York has ever produced, was born in Troy, June 12, 1845. He inherited the talents of his father and of his paternal ancestors, who for successive generations were men of ability, character, and integrity, and won for themselves a place in the history of their country. He was graduated with the highest honors at Union College in 1865, having received two first-class prizes, an honor which probably no member of a graduating class ever before received. The brilliant poem which he read on that occasion has by request several times been recited by him before large audiences, and greeted with well-merited applause. The year following he pursued a course of studies in philosophy and literature in the famous University of Heidelberg, Germany, and made the tour of Europe, developing and maturing those elegant tastes for poetry and the arts which he so eminently possesses. After his return from Europe he accepted the position of associate editor of the Troy Daily Whig, which he filled for three years. He was an active member of the Young Men's Association, of which he was corresponding secretary for a number of years, and subsequently was elected its president.

He was married, Jan. 26, 1871, to Miss Mary Eddy Fowler, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Dr. Harvey W. Fowler, of Hoosick Falls.

In 1874 he was appointed aide-de-camp, with rank of colonel, on Govenor Tilden's staff. Mr. Strong is an honorable, capable, and earnest man, a gentleman of commanding presence, of superior education, and would adorn any position where culture and refinement are demanded.

He accepted an invitation to deliver a poem at the thirtieth annual convention of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity at Williamstown, Mass., Oct. 5, 1876, entitled "Looking Backward Through the Gates." He also complied with the request of Abraham Lincoln Post No. 13, G. A. R., New York City, to write a poem for the great celebration which occurred on Decoration Day, May 30, 1878. It was entitled, "Lilies and Roses." Both efforts were a success, and both were received with unbounded applause.

Mr. Strong has been an occasional or constant contributor, both in prose and verse, to various newspapers and magazines; as his delightful letters from Europe, published in the Troy Press; his "Sleepy Hollow Sketches," in the Troy Northern Budget; and poems in the Troy Daily Times, Graphic, Independent,etc., bear witness.

His first writings made their appearance in book form in 1876 under the title of "Castle Windows," published by H. B. Nims & Co., Troy, N. Y. Here, as well as in New York and elsewhere, it received the attention of some admirable critics, who pronounced it to be the best work of its kind that had been given to American literature for several years. The Troy Northern Budget says, " On reading the poems we were utterly surprised at their strength, no less than delicacy and unvarying excellence; we had no conception that Mr. Strong could write a poem like 'The Herdsman of Biaie,' or the 'Mystery of Heidelberg Castle.' The latter contains fifty-five stanzas of Spenserian verse, almost as musical and dainty as the best of the 'Faerie Queen,' and in vividness of description comparing not unfavorably with portions of 'Childe Harold.' The 'Herdsman of Baiae is a metrical tale as striking, vigorous, and as artistic as 'The Prisoner of Chillon.'"

But earnestness and plaintiveness are Mr. Strong's usual directions of verse, and in these he has few superiors among even the great familiar names bannered high above Parnassus. Witness these three lines written "When Baby Died,"—

"Why Baby was the playmate of the birds—
They missed him ere the second day was gone,
And twittered 'round the porch with pleading words."

A still better poem in point — at least of art and finish — is the one called "After the Rain." Longfellow might be proud to place it among his fairest jewels. In the "Singer's Place" is another gem, shining, as it were, from away back in Persia, and suggesting the thought and method of Hafiz. The Boston Literary World says, "'Castle Windows' contains some of the finest verses of the day, — strong, graphic, refined, polished."

The Troy Daily Whig says, "We recognize in Mr. Strong a true poet. The creations of his imagination are beautiful. The poems in this volume are each and all beautiful." The New York Evening Post says, "Nearly every poem in Mr. Strong's volume is worth both reading and studying. In all that pertains to the mechanism of verse he is thoroughly skilled. His lines are musical, his metres well chosen."

The able litterateur who presides over the columns of book reviews in the New York Tribune says of Mr. Strong and his work, "'Castle Windows' is by a new author, but one who comes into the lists armed cap-a-pie, with a scarf of many colors floating from his shoulder, and a sword of good clang in his hand. He rides up and down right gallantly: and if the old war-worn knights cannot quite guess at the toughness and strength of the muscles under that blazoned coat of mail, they cannot at least deny him his tilt with the rest. To drop the figure, Latham Cornell Strong makes an excellent first appearance, — very much such a one in lyric as the author of 'Deirdre' in epic poetry."

The Troy Daily Times says, "In looking from 'Castle Windows' something new — a fresh, original style not a la Tennyson, nor Swinburne, nor Jean Ingelow — is seen. In these days, when all the beautiful flowers of poesy are supposed to have been culled, something new under the sun is as gratifying as the first breath of the violets in the early spring-time. It is not alone the sweet cadence, unfaltering metre, and beauty of expression which please the reader: underlying all is a stratum of deep thought. The very essence of musical rhythm is condensed in the 'Rhyme of Thula.' It is like the rippling of a mountain brook."

A critic says, "'Castle Windows' is a success. It has in it the poetic ring, and is rife with true poetic thought."

From Harper's Monthly Magazine: "'Castle Windows,' by Latham Cornell Strong, is by a poet new to us. His verse is well-nigh perfect in its finish, and in more than one stanza each line constitutes almost a separate picture. The experiences portrayed are somewhat mystical. We can think of nothing with which to compare his work so apt as one of those veiled statues which at once suggest and obscure an exquisitely lovely face."

The second effort is "Poke O'Moonshine," a poem founded on the romantic legend of the La Moille Valley, on the shores of Lake Champlain, published in 1878. This book was received by the public with similar favor to the first. It was ably reviewed in a late number of the Evolution by Edgar Fawcett, the well-known poet, critic, and author. He says "It is not hard to perceive that Mr. Latham Cornell Strong, in his recent poem 'Poke O'Moonshine,' has proved himself possessed of the true poetic faculty. Mr. Strong's taste is never at fault. He has an unerring perception of fitness. He never offends us with a dissonance either in phrase or rhythm."

Mr. Strong's third, and perhaps best, book has been recently published, — "Midsummer Dreams," by G. P. Putnam's Sons. All the critics who have thus far noticed it award it unequivocal praise.

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